Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding 2012 Drought
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 19, 2012 – “The most widespread drought in a generation has imposed great stress on people, crops and livestock. While the full impact on the nation won’t be known for several months, many farmers already know they won’t have a crop. Ranchers and livestock producers are having difficulties getting feed and forage for their livestock. The on-farm economic impacts are real and serious.
“From a policy perspective, it is important to remember that we don’t yet know the drought’s impact on the food supply and food prices, though we are seeing effects on feed prices. The drought’s effect on the 2012 corn crop is all the more dramatic because of the initial projections that U.S. farmers would harvest the largest corn crop ever. The latest forecasts still suggest we are on pace to produce the third or fourth largest corn crop on record. While the true extent of the damage will not be known until harvest is completed, we expect USDA’s August crop report, which is now being compiled to be released in three weeks, will provide a clearer picture as it will include actual in-the-field surveys. And we know, quite often, if conditions do not improve, the biggest impact comes in the following crop year.
“Data suggests that most of the corn and other row crops in the drought-stricken regions are covered by crop insurance. It’s often a different story for producers of other crops. Fruit producers in the upper Midwest had entire crops wiped out this spring by late freezes and other producers have had crop losses due to excessive rains and late-season blizzards. That is why we have called for a strengthened federal crop insurance program.
“This drought and the uncertainty it is causing farmers and ranchers and other segments of our industry underscores the importance of completing action on the 2012 farm bill. Providing farmers with improved risk management tools is a core principle of both the House and Senate versions of the pending farm bill, one we have strongly advocated. Both the Senate-passed and House Agriculture Committee versions contain new tools that will assist farmers, while restoring several expired provisions that would help livestock producers manage the weather-related risks that regularly impact their livelihoods. We remain hopeful congressional leaders will expedite their work on this vital legislation.
“As the effects of the drought continue to unfold, AFBF appreciates the actions taken to date by USDA based on its existing authorities. We will be working closely with USDA and Congress to determine if there are other practical solutions that could help producers not covered by crop insurance or other disaster mitigation tools.”
|Contacts:|| Tracy Taylor Grondine